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Running head: FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

Field Observation and Analysis


Laura Czyzewski
Georgia Southern University

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

Abstract
On Tuesday, February 18th, 2014, Georgia Institute of Technology held its quarterly meeting of
the general faculty, general faculty assembly, and the academic senate, of which I was given
permission to attend as a non-participating, observing member by the Secretary of the Faculty,
Ronald Bohlander. Among those of note in attendance were the university president, provost,
vice provosts for both undergraduate and graduate education, university registrar, faculty
committee chairs and various other non-chair faculty senate members. The following is a
synopsis of this meeting, segregated by topics discussed, and some critical analysis of the various
topics discussed.

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

Field Observation and Analysis


Building Construction and Space Planning Issues
At 3:00pm on February 18th, 2014, the meeting of the general faculty, general faculty
assembly, and the academic senate commenced, with opening remarks from Georgia Tech
President, G.P Bud Peterson. He began by informing us that the Georgia Legislature was
currently in session and that we had made a request for $1.75 million in what he referred to as
design funding, which Georgia Tech would match, to go towards a joint library with Emory
University. We would move some of our current library inventory to this new facility, which
would free up our current library towers for repurposing as academic space. While the president
did not directly address it, space management continues to become an increasing challenge at our
main Atlanta campus. According to our Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP, 2013)
enrollment of undergraduates at Georgia Tech has increased over the last 10 years by 26.32%
with overall enrollment having increased by 23.72%. In 2011, Georgia Tech opened its Clough
Undergraduate Learning Commons, which was designed to address increasing space needs on
campus. While it certainly provides the students 24/7 access to common areas, breakout rooms,
science laboratories, and smaller classrooms, the building only has two auditoriums designed for
large classes, which seemed to me to be the major flaw in design. While President Peterson did
not address the specifics of the planned repurposed library space, those on campus that have to
deal with space planning for classes will undoubtedly hope that larger classrooms are a part of
this project. As an additional comment on building construction across campus, the president
also mentioned that our new Engineered Biosystems Building is under construction, a project
which was projected to cost $113 million (Engineered Biosystems, n.d.). This building is

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

scheduled to open this year and will contain research space and biological laboratories, but no
large classroom space.
The Common Application and Undergraduate Admissions
For the fall 2013 admissions cycle, Georgia Tech became a member of and moved to The
Common Application (CA) for freshman admission to the Institute (Freshman Admission, 2013).
The Common Application is a voluntary not-for-profit membership organization that provides a
common admissions application that students can submit to any member institution (Ehrenberg
and Liu, 2009, p. 49). Ehrenberg and Liu (2009) suggest that the CA provides two distinct
advantages. The first is that it allows students to spend less time applying to colleges and more
time focusing on their studies in their final year of high school. It also provides the opportunity
for competing peer institutions to collaborate in identifying what they are looking for in top
candidates while increasing their application quantity. President Peterson was happy to report,
that as a result of moving to the Common Application, out of the 70% increase in freshman
application volume over the last 5 years, we had seen a 46% increase in just this admissions
cycle from the previous cycle of fall 2012. That is quite an impressive increase. As far as I am
aware, this process is only in place for undergraduate admissions. It would be great if there was a
graduate option that was filtered by specific program, with groupings of peer institutions for the
applicants to select from. Sometimes I think the burden of time it takes to complete various
specific applications prevents students from applying to multiple programs, particularly for
graduate programs with applicants of more of a varied demographic (older, employed full-time,
have families, etc.). If all program options were easily selectable at the time of completing the
CA, more programs could potentially have access to top students with greater diversity in both
academic background and racial/ethnic/socioeconomic status (Ehrenberg and Liu, 2009).

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

Campaign Georgia Tech and the Strategic Plan.


President Bud Peterson took the office of president of Georgia Tech in 2009 following
former president, G. Wayne Clough. At that time, President Peterson put forth a new Strategic
Plan, released in 2010, which outlined steps for Designing the Future to create the Georgia
Tech of 2035 (Designing the Future, 2010). At the time of release, President Peterson claimed
that, This plan is a living document and will evolve as Tech evolves (Designing the Future,
2010, p. 1). On a similar note, Schloss and Cragg (2013) discuss how a strategic plan is meant to
be a guideline as opposed to a fixed roadmap. In keeping with this ideal, President Peterson
addressed in his opening remarks the need to revisit the strategic plan and his plan to put together
an advisory group, with a charge to provide guidance. He also discussed his plan to hold town
halls for small groups throughout campus. Later in the meeting, the provost referred to
conducting a 360 review of the strategic plan to ensure we are prioritizing our fulfilling our
vision and mission.
Tying in with the strategic plan, the president also discussed our capital campaign,
referred to as Campaign Georgia Tech. As part of the strategic plan released in 2010, President
Peterson increased the campaign to extend beyond its original goal of $1 billion, set to end in
2010, to end in 2015 with a goal of $1.5 billion. The president reported at the meeting that we are
on our way to meeting the goal, with $1.3 billion secured with 22 months left to go.
Launching of online format for MS in Computer Science degree.
For the spring 2014 semester, Georgia Tech partnered with course provider Udacity to
launch a new MS in Computer Science to be offered entirely online. The program comes in at a
cost that is one-sixth the cost of doing the program in residence, making it extremely attractive to
those looking to pursue such a degree (Straumsheim, 2013). The provost reported in the meeting

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

that the program received 2,400 applications in its first admissions cycle. 400 were admitted to
the program, with 380 choosing to enroll. What I found most fascinating was that 85% of the
applicants were domestic candidates. Being an online format, I would have automatically
assumed it would have a greater international interest. That being said, I have not quite
researched the marketing strategy for the program and who the target market was for advertising
purposes. Perhaps more resources were allocated for recruiting domestic candidates. The provost
made an interesting comment, stating that the immediate success of such a program will make us
rethink future program formatting. It will be exciting to see where this pilot program leads
Georgia Tech in the future.
Emergency Notification Breakdown.
After the provost had finished his address and the floor was open for questions, one
faculty member asked about the ice storm that occurred on January 30th and the breakdown in
communication that led to several Georgia Tech employees being released from work too late to
avoid a horrible gridlock situation escaping the city. I found this question of particular interest,
since I was also caught in the gridlock, taking 11 hours to get home. President Peterson
addressed this question directly. The faculty member was asking specifically why the web site
was not updated with the campus closure information, with the Georgia Tech Twitter account
giving the most updated information. The presidents response was that he assumed students
would be more apt to gain information faster through Twitter versus the web site or email,
implying that students do not read either, and that Twitter seemed the best option at the time. The
faculty member pointed out that staff and faculty are not as likely to follow Twitter and the
president agreed that going forward, more direct channels of communication would be open. The
provost went on to discuss the plan for making up the class time. On a side note, in speaking

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

with a direct contact in our Registrars Office, it was an incredible effort to design a means to
maximize the most effective schedule for making up the class time. Several reports had to be run
to assess not only when classes could be made-up so as to not create conflict with one another,
but also keeping in mind classroom space, given that we do have evening programs and labs that
run on non-traditional time schedules.
Retiring General Faculty title.
One of the more detailed agenda items of the meeting was the proposal to retire the title
of General Faculty, to be replaced by two distinct faculty groups: academic faculty and research
faculty. Those not categorized as either, primarily made up of certain non-teaching staff
members, would default to regular staff status. This decision was made after a task force was
created out of the Provosts Office consisting of an executive board and subcommittee on
assessing the definition of faculty. The General Faculty Assembly and Academic Senate would
be replaced by the Academic Faculty Senate and the Research Faculty Senate, both of which
would make up the Faculty Senate (Background, 2014). My immediate reaction to this was
concern over certain staff that had retained faculty status over the years. This was addressed later,
with the reading of the revised Faculty Handbook by Ms. Jeanne Balsam, Chair of the Statues
Committee. In the reading of the revised handbook, it was stated that if an individuals status was
removed, they may continue to receive leave benefits and participate on standing committees, in
essence being grandfathered in. Faculty status would be designated by job title, the definitions of
which would be housed in the presidents office. It was also noted that if an individual wishes to
appeal their designated status to the Executive Board, they may do so within 60 days. The
proposal also gives the president the right to give officials within administrative offices that have
decision-making authority across the institute, ex-officio faculty status. It was mentioned that

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

one of the motivating factors to redefine faculty status was to create a separate staff advisory
board, giving greater influence to more members of the staff community and allow for joint
meetings with the faculty senate. To me, it seemed a bit of a means to pacify the staff from being
upset about the demotion in status and a clever way to spin the situation. Regardless, the first
reading of the handbook was put up for vote and approved, with a second reading to come this
month and subsequent final vote.
New course and degree program proposals.
The meeting concluded with two respective presentations by the Undergraduate
Curriculum Committee Chair, Prof. Laura Hollengreen, and Graduate Curriculum Committee
Chair, Prof. Jeff Jagoda outlining new course proposals and proposals for new degree programs.
Various new courses, minors, and degree programs were discussed, at a rather quick pace. It was
a bit surprising to me that each individual item was not put up for vote, rather one vote was taken
at the end for approval. There were not many questions asked of the logistics or resources
necessary to implement such courses or programs. Perhaps it is the responsibility of the
curriculum committees to discuss these issues in detail, but I would think that the other
department faculty would want a little more detail before voting an entire degree program into
practice.
Conclusion
The Faculty Senate meeting was an excellent opportunity to gain some insight into the
decision-making processes of the Institute, including who has authority to make what decisions,
and the types of issues that are voted upon. There were several items to discuss and vote upon at
the February 18th meeting. I will be excited to see where the future of Georgia Tech is headed and
what our strategic plan modifications have in store for us, whether we move to more online

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education, and how the Common Application will affect our application volume in the future.
There seem to be many exciting plans on the horizon at Tech and I am glad that I get to be a part
of them.

FIELD OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS

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References
Background to 2014 Draft Faculty Handbook: Incorporating Changes in Faculty Governance for
New Faculty Definitions (2014). Retrieved from
http://www.facultygovernance.gatech.edu/Background_2014_Draft_Faculty_Handbook.pdf
Designing the Future: A Strategic Vision and Plan. (2010). Retrieved from
http://www.strategicvision.gatech.edu/sites/strategicvision.gatech.edu/files/Georgia_Tech_Strate
gic_Plan.pdf
Ehrenberg, Ronald G. and Liu, Albert Yung-Hsu. (n.d.) The Common Application: When
Competitors Collaborate. Retrieved from
https://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0e8035a2-3483-4cf2-b7ec5f9a003f6982%40sessionmgr112&vid=7&hid=103
Engineered Biosystems Building Breaks Ground. (n.d.) Retrieved from
http://www.coe.gatech.edu/content/engineered-biosystems-building-breaks-ground
Freshman Admission Switches to Common Application. (2013). Retrieved from
http://www.news.gatech.edu/2013/05/14/freshman-admission-switches-common-application
IRP Self-Service Reports, (2013). Retrieved from
http://www.irp.gatech.edu/reports/enrollment_by_campus_typectb.php?
cmd=search&sv_TERM_DECODED=201308+-2013+Fall&s_sv_TERM_DECODED=s
%3DAeIS07iNbe1a89pTa76d3OzMMFnRD2K0DSldxeiQTGx4waDOgQZCY7f_O6UNw4BEt78E3JHoTusPYWu7iskU_xbveVWriR9
HGVCx9SNnPyMbSFJ9SJGjJZ1O_ZGUmREexKUiCDi__gofKnyys50Ha_d1HACFWiXkk9EKG01BvElnk3JWhxpw..%26fn%3D

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Schloss, Patrick J. and Cragg, Kristina M. (2013) Organization and Administration in Higher
Education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Straumsheim, Carl. (2013). The First Cohort. Inside Higher Education. Retrieved from
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/13/georgia-tech-admits-first-cohort-ahead-onlinemasters-degree-program-launch#sthash.33QSWHAE.dpbs